Submitted by the Sustainability Working Group
Did you know that sustainability doesn’t only include the food we eat and the garbage we throw out? Sustainability also encompasses the clothing we buy and wear. There is a movement called slow fashion which encourages fashion designers to pledge or launch clothing lines that are sustainable, reducing landfill waste and carbon footprint. Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced by mass market retailers. As a reaction to fast fashion, slow fashion is more holistic, intentional and thoughtful.
We have all been guilty of mindless retail consumption. Have you gone into a store intending to buy one thing but ended up walking out with an entire cartful of items? Seventy-five percent of fast fashion items end up in landfills, or the equivalent of one garbage truck per second (2018, Pulse of the Fashion Industry, https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/publications-and-policy/pulse-of-the-industry/). Once these items leave our ownership they usually end up in a landfill, having a huge impact on the environment. Even more, most articles of clothing are made in factories that pollute our water and air. By purchasing clothes from these fast fashion companies, we are contributing to the global climate crisis.
The Slow Fashion concept, coined by design activist Kate Fletcher, is a way “to identify sustainable fashion solutions, based on the repositioning of strategies of design, production, consumption, use, and reuse, which are emerging alongside the global fashion system, and are posing a potential challenge to it.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Slow_fashion&oldid=1020814453). Slow fashion is an alternative to fast fashion in the sense that it promotes a more ethical and sustainable way of living and consuming.
Although the slow fashion movement has been gaining increased awareness in the past few years, Native Americans have honored these cultural practices since the beginning of time. It is ingrained in our Puyallup culture to create things with a respect for nature and the world we live in. We are taught to only take what we need and to use the entirety of what we take. We have modeled this concept in the way we fish and hunt. As Indigenous people we have the power to change the way people think about clothing, creating more of a balance between humans and the natural world.
It is our responsibility to protect our Mother Earth, and we can do so by adopting the following practices:
• Buy less clothing
• Keep clothing longer
• Shop at second-hand/thrift stores
• Do clothing exchanges with friends and family
• Buy clothing from stores that use sustainable practices
• Buy locally designed and produced garments
• Upcycle clothing
• Buy clothing that is upcycled, recycled, or made from natural materials
What is upcycling?
Upcycling is transforming clothes, accessories, and textile waste into something new. This is a great way to reuse clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill. With upcycling, we can take something that doesn’t fit or is stained/torn and refashion a wearable product from it.